Director Richard Linklater lost the structure but kept the damning premise of Eric Schlosser's "Fast Food Nation," a fictional expose of the fast-food industry.
The key indictments are there: how fast-food chains shamelessly market their food to demographically susceptible groups; how the fecal matter at slaughterhouses makes its way into the meat; how animals are mistreated en route to becoming your Happy Meal.
Several storylines overlap here, although not with any finesse. Greg Kinnear plays a vice president for Mickey's, investigating reports that his chain's meat is contaminated. He is shown a spotless processing plant. Only upon talking to ex-employees does he learn the horror of the killing floor.
Characters played by Wilmer Valderrama and Catalina Sandino Moreno illegally cross the border to get jobs at the packing plant. A few miles away, a high-schooler struggles with her conscience while working at a Mickey's.
There's no overt vilifying here, though Schlosser's central thesis that the chains are bastions of greed and indifference shines through.
Here's the problem with "Fast Food Nation": It's slow, and Linklater tries to jam too much story into too small a space. The illegal-immigrant story has more dramatic heft and emotional impact than anything else on the screen.
If you really want a call to arms, buy the book - don't see the movie.
Extras: A making-of feature and four animated shorts that graphically show how cattle are slaughtered and processed for the fast-food market.
"Fast Food Nation" is available on DVD from Fox. 114 minutes. Rated R. $27.98. Grade: C